Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016

WASHINGTON — We are about to have a major foreign policy debate in the guise of a confirmation battle over Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense and the related argument over how long American troops should stay in Afghanistan. President Obama should use this opportunity to stand up for his broader vision of how American power can be sustained and used, even if that doesn’t come naturally to a pragmatist who likes making decisions one at a time.

Underlying this clash will be another over whether the United States is in long-term decline. We are not, and the decline discussion should not scare us. We seem to have it every few decades.

We had it in 1960 when John F. Kennedy promised to “get the country moving again.” We had it in 1980 after Vietnam, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the taking of American hostages in Iran. Ronald Reagan pledged to “make America great again.”

And in 2008, with China rising, our country bogged down in a dispiriting war in Iraq and an economy in freefall, Obama came along touting “hope” and “change we can believe in.” The operative verb was “believe,” and in 2012, Mitt Romney paid Obama the compliment of using the very same word in his “Believe in America” slogan. We desperately want to believe in ourselves.

Obama’s harshest critics are essentially charging that he has accepted American decline. They are convinced he wants to pull back from the world and slash the Pentagon budget to make room for more domestic spending. He’s often accused of making the Western European choice: less for the military, more for the welfare state. Hagel, a critic of Pentagon bloat and of America’s engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, is seen as Obama’s nominally Republican agent in achieving this transformation.

Let’s look first at the partial truths embodied in a critique that otherwise misreads Obama’s intentions.

  • John Lucas

    America’s defense budget is too wasteful, and the fat should be trimmed ; America’s foreign policy has been too bellicose and interventionist, and should be made less so; and America’s modus operandi abroad has had far too many unintended consequences and should be made more effective — independently of the well-reasoned arguments in favor of the well-reasoned actions above. Our immense power should be used for the benefit of the nation, and the world. EJ is right , if I understand him correctly , that until we accomplish the former the latter will remain beyond our reach.

    • Yes I Totally Agree We Have So Many Weapons Stock Piled We Have Enough To Blow The World Up 10000 Times And Then Have Some Left Over!! We Need Our Roads Fixed, More Education And Skills Training In Order To Bring More Jobs!! We Have Had Enough With Wars It’s Time To Give Peace A Chance!!!

      • Ed

        And cutting back on defense contracts will release the talent to carry us forward.

        • You Got That Right!!! It’s Time To Stop Feeding The War Mongers!! It’s Time To Stop Blowing Up Other People Country And Spending Money Rebuilding It Back Up Again!!! It Make No Sense If We Were At War And I Blew Up Your House I Wouldn’t Give A Damn How It Got Fix Back Up!!! It Makes No Sense!! It Only Helps The War Mongers With The Contracts Make Money!!! 🙁

  • The United States is not in decline, we are not retreating, and we are not broke. Our GDP is second to none, and our fiscal problems are not the result of economic or social decline, rather, they are caused by our decision – as citizens – not to pay for many of the things we need and benefit from.
    In this specific case, the United States met its original goals when we decided to invade Afghanistan after the 9/11/01 tragedy. The Al Qaeda training camps were destroyed in a matter of days, the AQ presence in Afghanistan was decimated, and the Taliban was removed from power and replaced by a government that is more or less pro-Western.
    Since those goals were achieved, we spent a decade supporting a regime notorious for its corruption, thousands of Americans lost their lives or have been maimed training to give a medieval society an opportunity to embrace the values and pursue the opportunities that are available in the 21st century. A large number of Afghans (Pathans and Pashtuns) remain intent in retaining their traditions, their way of life, and their radical interpretation of Islam.
    I say, let them live their lives the way they want and let’s not sacrifice any more American lives or our treasure trying to change those who do not want to change.
    From a geopolitical or strategic perspective, and considering our military capabilities, Afghanistan is of little importance to us. Let’s get out of that place, the sooner the better, and invest the money we are wasting there right here where it would have a positive impact on our economic recovery.
    Slash and burn is not the answer. We must learn to respect the rights and aspirations of others, and must always pursue the spirit enshrined in our Constitution.

    • And I Totally Agree With You Also It’s Time To GO!! Like Joe Biden Told The Lying King Paul Ryan, Let Them Guard Their Own Country We Train Them It’s Time For Them To Put That Training To Work!!!

      • lana ward

        Omuslim is lying about the decline of America, just like he lied about taxes not going up on the middle class!! When are you going to wake up!! Omuslim lies about EVERYTHING!!!

        • Your Stinky Cock Sucking Bitch STFU Talking To Me What The Fuck Has To Happen To Your Low Life Stinking Ass To Get It Thru Your Dumb Ass HEAD I Don’t Care To Hear Your Racist Dumb Ass Bullshit Tea Bagging Cock Sucking BITCH!!! GO FUCK YOU IGNORANT CAVE DWELLING BITCH!!!YOURSELF!!! AND SUCK OUT OF A DEAD MOOSE ASS!!!

          • lana ward

            Fern, from your picture, it looks like your the one who sucks out “moose asses” You racist piece of black


          • lana ward

            Can dish it out, but can’t take it?? You racist worm!!

          • Go Suck Some Cocks And Earn Your Keep Cave Dwelling KKK Gutter Trash!!

          • You ‘re Not Talking About Shit You So Stupid And Ignorant The Election Is Over If You Don’t Like What’s Going On MOVE Just Stop Talking To Me BITCH!!!!

          • neeceoooo

            The only thing you can dish out is garbage.

          • lana ward

            The garbage is in the WH, that’s why it stinks so bad there. Muslim brotherhood terrorists are working for omuslim. He’s sending MILLIONS of tax payers money to mosques around the world. He’s giving BILLIONS to the UN. Omuslim STINKS to high heaven!!

          • Prove all the crap you like to sling around here please.

          • lana ward

            Quit listening to the MSM. You just might learn something

          • Stop your whinnying, you ask for it!

          • lana ward

            I don’t ask for what Fern Woodfork says. I ask questions, and she goes nuts!!! She must have her mind in the gutter all the time. I’ve never heard such skank talk. I can’t believe her posts get through. One nasty, skanky bitch!!!

          • Yes You Did BITCH Cause Every Time Your Stinking Ass Say Something To Me You Know I’m Going To Rip You A New Asshole Cause I Asked You Many Of Time Shut The Fuck Up Talking To Me BITCH!!!! YOUR MOTHER IS THE STANK SKANKY ASS BITCH YOU COCK SUCKING WHORE!!!!

          • lana ward

            Typical omuslim voter LOL


          • lana ward

            Is omuslim taking enough of your check yet?? There’s more to come. Thanks for voting for that lying traitor


          • Yes You Did BITCH This Is Not Our First Rodeo!!! I Learned From Your Mother She The Nastiest Bitch Around!! DON’T ASK ME SHIT!! BITCH!!! IT’S Cause National Memo Don’t Like Your Ass Either!!!

          • What? What questions do you ever, ever ask? You name call the president and all you do is throw bull shit around because you hate him and everyone can see it. Stop with your nutty behavior!

          • lana ward

            I hate anyone who would purposely destroy America. I said when omuslim was “elected”, I hope he is treated the same way Bush was treated. I think it’s pretty close

        • YOUR MOTHER SHOULD HAD ABORTED YOUR DUMB ASS !! IF She Did We Wouldn’t Have To Hear From Your Dumb ASS BITCH!!! Rush Limpballs Needs His Nuts Licked Go Earn Your Keep Bitch!!!

          • That’s giving it to her, Fern! She’s a fruitcake and a facist!

        • You Knew What Was Coming When You Push My Reply Button Cave Dwelling Stank Ass Bitch!!!

        • This Is The Very Thing Colin Powell Was Talking About On Meet The Press Yesterday When He Ripped The GOP/Tea Party A New Asshole The Same Reason Why I’m Ripping You One, Dumb Ass Space Head KKK BITCH!!

          • lana ward

            Colin Powell proved himself to be a racist..There is no other reason for him to have said what he said. That’s the way you racists talk


        • Another idiot and bigot. You are becoming a minority and there’s not a damn ting you can do about it. Ignorance is one thing but stupidity is forever and you are stupid.

          • lana ward

            And you’re a communist. Good wins in the end so you’re doomed

          • You Are A Racist Gutter Tramp And You Are Loser From The Start!!

          • lana ward

            How’s your paycheck looking, communist?? Your princess, Hitler omuslim promised to help the middle class, instead he’s killing us.–God is who lasts forever, you WILL die one day!!

          • You will die soon also and everyone out here won’t miss you.

          • lana ward

            Thank you

          • Us, Who Is Us??? Your Lying Ass Don’t Have A Job Bitch!!

          • lana ward

            I care for the elderly and have 33 cats, I think that’s a job

          • What Do You Know A Crazy Racist Cat Lady Guess We Will Be Seeing Your Ugly Ass On Hoarders!! LOL Go Screw On A Fur Ball And Shut Your Dumb Ass Up !! I Bet You Wont Be Working Long If These Elderly Family Know You’re A Dumb Ass KKK Racist Ignorant Bitch Who Talking About The President Who Helping The Elderly By Not Letting Your Thugs Ass GOP/Tea Party Gut Out Their SS And Medicare!! Stupid Bitch!!

        • Show some proof of your ridiculous statements or just shut up. You keep repeating the same lies, I know that works on Fox but it doesn’t work here.

          • lana ward

            Your paycheck is the proof!!

      • well spoken, fern.

    • Our President Is On NOW And He Makes A Lot Of Sense!! I Think He’s A Good President!!!

      • neeceoooo

        I think he is a great president.

        • So do I.

          • old_blu

            So do I.

        • lana ward

          How is your paycheck looking? Omuslim is killing the middle class, those he promised to help!! Romney warned us, but you wouldn’t listen!!

          • You Don’t Know What A Pay Check Look Like Nobody In Their Right Mind Would Hire Your Dumb Ass!!! Those Tips You Get From Sucking The Koch Brothers Asses Is Not A Paycheck!! LOL Why You Here ??? Billy Bob Whooped Your Ass Again??? Stop Stealing His Meth!!

          • lana ward

            You didn’t answer, how much more of your paycheck is Omuslim stealing?? He promised to help the middle class, not steal more from us!!

          • HOW MUCH MONEY YOU GET FOR SUCKING THE KOCH BROTHERS ASSHOLES!! Why Don’t You Go Back To Your Cave!!! Stank Ass Whore!! And Bitch You’re Not An American You’re A TROLL!!

          • Bitch You Don’t Have A Job Or A Life!! If You Did You Wouldn’t Be Here With Your Lying Ass Bullshit!! Your Broke Ass Can’t Afford A Picture Either That Or You So Damn Ugly You May Scare The Hell Out Of Everyone Here!! Why Don’t You Get The Fuck Out Of Here With Your Dumb Ass Bullshit!!

          • lana ward

            Did Omuslim promise to help the middle class or steal more from us?? He is KILING the middle class!! Wake up!! He hates Americans!!

          • Please clarify and substantiate your last sentence. I doubt you can.

          • lana ward

            Look up Saul Alinsky. Look up Cloward and Piven. These are omuslims idols and mentors. His parents and Grandparents were ALL communists. They all hated America

          • neeceoooo

            Her paycheck comes in the form of cash only so she has never paid any income tax. She really is an idiot and you can’t expect anything intelligent from her.

          • You Got That Right My Friend The Stank Should Catch Up With Her Crowd On WND Wacko N Dummies!! This Is Not Our First Rodeo I Guess She Like Getting Ripped A New Asshole!!! LOL

          • neeceoooo

            You are so right, Fern.

          • FUCK YOU AND ROMNEY!!!

          • Dummy my paycheck will be reduced by about 2%, the amount of the previous FICA tax rate cut, it ‘s just going back to its prior rate. My investments on the other hand are up well over 50% since Obama became president and my house value is up at least 20% since he took office. The 2% goes to the SS Fund. The Omuslim name jsut show your juvenile and noncreative thinking.
            Romney would have screwed you over royally but you are just too stupid to have realized that.

          • cats33

            Omuslim said only the wealthy would be taxed. Instead the middle class is to. And to avoid that horrible obamacare many businesses are cutting their workers down to 28 hrs a week!!

          • Where do you get all this BS? Making it up as you go?

          • Same Here Bill My Investments Are Doing Great!! Obama Just Gave The American People A Gift Of The Reduced Rates Cause Bush No Good Ass Screwed The Economy Up So Bad, He Did Not Said It Will Be Forever!! This Dumb Troll Don’t Have A Job She Just Heard About It Either From Others Who Work, On Fox Fake News Or When She Was Turning A Trick With Rush Limpdick While She Was Giving Him A Blow Job!!

          • PLEASE!!!! Romney the plastic man liar/con man? Keep pitting yourself as a self-righteous god-fearing person which you are obviously not. Spend some time reading the scriptures. Ask yourself “what would Jesus do?” instead of filling this posts with your vile hatred.

          • lana ward

            Romney warned us, but you wouldn’t listen!! Instead you believed the “perfected” liar

    • Dominick – who are you? Another accurate representation of the situation. The Afghans need to fiind their own way out their backward ways. We cannot succeed there at nation building. Going into Afghanistan after 911 was the right thing to do but Bush’s side track into Iraq was a monumental blunder. Sadam had been coontained and was no longer a threat except to his own people.

  • tman000

    America will continue to be stong, the ‘best Country’ in the world to live and work and will rise above the negative people that follow the ‘hate & fear’ Tabloid Radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh and his self centered, greedy agenda.

  • ChristoD

    The ‘declinists’ are simply Republicans doing what they do well. They are doom and gloomers who bring out there ‘take America back’, Socialist, food stamp, etc. nonsense. They only use this crap when the Democrats are in control. The issue is that the ‘mainstream media’ pays too much attention to them and gives them too much coverage. We are a country where too many people are not thinking for themselves and are vulnerable to what the media has to say.

    • I agree. The doom and gloom mantra has been an important element in a GOP strategy designed to project an illusion of economic chaos even when it should be evident to everyone that the economy has turned around and that the only reason it is not yet on solid ground is because of Republican obstructionism.
      Social Security and MEDICARE have absolutely nothing to do with our economic problems. SS remains solvent and fully funded by FICA contributions. The same would have been true for MEDICARE had it not been for the 2003 Trojan Horse euphemistically called Part D reform. The latter was an overt attempt to make the program insolvent and destroy it. Not surprisingly, MEDICARE now relies on general funds for part of their expenditures. Minor adjustments, which do not include cutting benefits, would make both programs solvent for many years to come. And that does not include Paul Ryan’s MEDICARE dismantling plan and his beloved vouchers.
      Our media does pay too much attention to minions that don’t deserve it warrant it. Unfortunately, the media thrives on sensationalism and negativism. The more radical a politician is, the more media attention he/she gets. Tht’s the reason people like Ryan and Bachmann get the attention they do. The solution for that is stop watching mainstream media and let’s get our information via the Internet. An added bonus, if we did that, would be not having to watch and listen to commercials!

      • Doom And Gloom GOP/Tea Party Is Always Forever Looking For The Boogie Man When In Fact They Are The Boogie Man!!!

      • ‘The News Hour’ on PBS…as well as ‘Washington Week’ …are non-commercial. They are also ‘fair and balanced’ for real…not hiding behind a perversely taunting ‘slogan’ like Faux News. I wonder if Roger Ailes has a Jim Lehrer voodoo doll stuck full of pins. I would be willing to bet Mitt Romney does. You betcha!

        • Everybody Here Is Talking With Sense Now Just Wait For It:::::::: Wait For It:::::::: Soon The Crazies & The Trolls Will Enter With Their Bullshit Nonsense!!!! Hope Their Asses Stay Sleep!!!

      • johninPCFL

        The thing you’re overlooking Dom is that some of the SS no longer receives enough payroll taxes to pay all of the recipients. Past overpayments have been invested in securities, and in order to redeem those securities at the treasury, money is borrowed by the treasury. It doesn’t add to the debt because it’s essentially a journal transaction, but the money is borrowed.

        Similarly, Medicare recipients typically pay for about 1/3 of their lifetime benefit, and there are no securities backing up the plan. It is funded by payroll taxes and borrowing.

        Both of these programs were on solid footing during better times, when employment was higher. Ignoring the realities of the present while building the economy doesn’t forward the argument. We should be saying “the economy is weak and we’ll have to support the retirees who have already paid into the system until it recovers.”

  • bpai99

    “We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.” – Gen. Douglas MacArthur

  • The point was made, folks, that we don’t use as many horses in our military nowadays. Stop your cowboy mentality stupidity. There are MANY cuts we can make in the military, and by golly, we ARE getting out of unwarranted wars. Nobody has EVER been able to “help” the Afghans – they are beyond any sanity. Read The Panther by Nelson DeMille and learn something about what our drone mssiles actually do to help us and DO NOT have to kill American soldiers. I know, I know, you love the glory other people’s death bring you….except you deserve NO glory as you do nothing yourself.

  • I like the President policy on wanting to build America and the economy, so he wants Nation building, charity begins at home. We have to get away from thinking and raising weapons to be equal to main stream worship or always looking for conflicts to get involved, in the World.
    The best help that we can provide is to be a good example, and compete with other Countries to do what is right for the people in the Country, and it don’t take killing each other; think about it.

    • idamag

      Taal, you are right. We could do more to advance democracy by setting a good example.

  • Considering the “Chest Thumper” who sat in the White House during the previous administration, you would think the GOP would try to advance someone intelligent, who can actually think for themselves and accept input from both Conservatives and Progressives.

    Instead, they insist on only promoting the Party line, and refusing to admit that the world DOES NOT revolve around the wealthy, old white males.

    It’s too bad there are so many people blinded by race and greed.

  • elw

    The only decline the US faces are tied to the chains of Right-wing extremist who are stuck in the 1950’s afraid to move out of their comfortable spot. The President has set the Country back on the right track and he has my support, I make it a point not to listen to any ideas, thoughts or assessments pushed by the crazy right.

  • clarenceswinney

    600 Trillion in bets (Derivatives)
    Six U.S banks hold 231Trilllion
    Net US Wealth is 54 Trillion
    Total bank deposits are 13 Trillion
    Something miss!!
    Can anyone explain it??

    • daniel bostdorf

      I just did an extensive internet search for your “statistics” posted….and they can’t be found anywhere let alone “any World Forum…but you may mean AEI World Forum.

      You forgot to provide us with a weblink as well.

      A liitle background on the real World Forum:

      This “AEI World Forum” which I believe is what you are alluding to is sponsored by the ULTRA RIGHT WING American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Vail Valley Foundation! It is private and off the record. The World Forum consists of plenary sessions, topical small-group discussion sessions, informal conversational time, and recreational activities. According to the Vail Valley Foundation, Senior U.S. cabinet officers and legislators provide candid briefings on important policy initiatives. Heads of major international corporations discuss business and financial developments. Government officials from Europe, Asia and the Americas debate international strategic and economic issues in a private, informal atmosphere, far removed from the distractions of day-to-day business.

      Your post is purely Teaparty and AEI PROPAGANDA, lies and distortions to fit a political agenda. It is not factual.

      “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

      The “World Forum” as I know it is a non governmental, independent, and voluntary organization set up in London and Dubai committed to world peace.

      The World Forum believes in reviving a tradition of dialogue between people, cultures and civilizations based on shared values like tolerance, mutual respect, humanity, compassion and justice. It also believes in resolving conflicts through discussion, and developing better understanding among people. It has a particular focus on the relations between The Muslim World and Arab World and the West as many world conflicts concern this region. It aims to build bridges of understanding that bring people, cultures and civilizations closer and explore ways to avoid conflict and war.

      • idamag

        daniel, having been in debate, in high school, it amazes me when these people put out phony statistics put out by hate blogs and expect us to believe them.

  • diverdown48

    To Dominick, Fern and John Lucas, thanks for reasonable posts that do not spew hate and stupidity. Well done

    • daniel bostdorf

      I could not agree more….The “clarenceswinney” is elusive on the internet.You need to check out what appears to be his bizarre blog???

      smirkingchimp (dot) com author clarence swinney.

  • I think the president is doing a masterfull job,and the american people black white brown and yellow have had resurgence of brotherhood love and understanding in reellecting this capable politian Borak Obama and they are to be comenndid with utmost praise and honor,the republican views are that the rich the powerfull and the well to do continue to get fat while the rest of the classes sink lower and lower income and overeall peace,but the people have woke up to divide and conquere strategy which is very simple minded but americans are not in the dark and more the struggle is rich againt poor and republicans are well aware of that fact so they say cut off grandma while giving and more to fat cats the pay for their campaigns slide them mad money to say any thing to stop the poor and middle class from moving forward toward a better life their families.Power to the people cause with out them the wealth means nothing.

  • I love it when these Republican/Tea Bag trolls and imps call President Obama a socialist. They seem to forget that it was Bush/Cheney who borrowed 6 trillion dollars from communist China to cover their robbery of the American economy through Haliburton and Blackwater for seven years. Bush/Cheney pissed all over Americans and told us it was raining. Man, it’s amazing.

  • Anyone having graduated the second grade knows the math says otherwise, Mr. Obama.

  • I totally agree with Obama and other wise men who are simply saying cut the defense budget and cut it deep and cut it now. Look at the reality in America, American economy is about Three Trillion Dollars then ask yourself why and for what reason we are spending over 650 Billion Dollars on military each and every year. There is no could war and there is no soviet Union around to threaten us. Over one out of six dollars we earned goes to defense budget. We are shooting ourselves on the foot by borrowing money and then wasting it on weapons that have no use and we never use it. It remind me of the Ronald Reagan seven hundred ships navy debacle. All wasted for nothing. America should learn from history and stop repeating the mistakes. Zionists and Neo-Con warmongers that own and control the U.S. and E.U. military industrial complex will be the only loser if America wise up.

  • We have areas that need mending. We have artificially created a growing consumer economy by extending credit rather than working on raising salaries and extending better education that would earn better salaries. We’re paying for that now. We have abandoned an innovating and manufacturing economy for a services and investment economy where nothing is created. With the end of the cold war we had a chance to get off the dependence of foriegn oil and redirect military funds into the infrastructure and science — we did neither. We created a tyrant Presidential office where the checks and balances of that office are no longer effective. We have the largest redistrubution of wealth, from the bottom up. The people are disfranchized or distracted with partisan politics and don’t see the real problems. We have crazies that can get automatic weapons and massacre children. We have our work cut out for us.

  • Tom

    The only thing declining in this country is ability of congress to compromise on issues that really matter, such as budgets, debt ceilings, gun controls, entitlements, and military spending. Our citizens are fed up with a congress that can’t chew gum and walk straight at the same time. We are the strongest, richest, nation in the world and our people are running out of tolerance for a bunch of strong arm politicians that don’t care about the interests of the people. Decline! Poppycock. If our representatives in Washington would learn to use their brains and mouths rather than their fists and guns we would not be at war and have military posts around the world. Lets be honest. The rest of the world is jealous of the United States and the Islamic nations hate our guts for being present in their countries. There is no justification for having a military larger and stronger than 26 of the strongest countries in the world combined. If we are in decline, how is that possible? Lets be honest. There are a group of ultra conservative tea party representatives that would lick a nickle an hour before spending it knowing full well the money was going for chug -holes in a super highway. There’s a speaker of the house that’s controlled by this group and his main interest seems to be holding on to his job. We also have a majority leader in the senate that won’t bring any bill to a vote that he personally thinks the house won’t pass. The president has submitted a proposed budget to the senate that’s log-jammed for this very reason. American citizens lend me you ear. A complete recall election of every member in congress is not only logical, but necessary for the safety of our country.